As a Correction Officer working for Westchester County Department of Correction, one of the largest law enforcement agencies in Westchester County, I have to say the county has failed its women. I feel the need and the urgency to speak not only for Correction Officers, but for all law enforcement officers working for the County of Westchester that aren’t offered any form of maternity leave benefits for new or expecting parents. Currently New York State has a paid family leave law. They offer 12 weeks in 2021 with the benefit amount being 67% of your average weekly wage. However Westchester County chooses to opt out of this plan. This is supposed to be the age of the woman, but the women in Corrections are still oppressed, which is unacceptable from an administration that claims to have more diversity than any before it.
Across the country, Law Enforcement departments have found it hard to treat pregnant officers with equity. Being a female Law Enforcement Officer or what is called “Policing while pregnant,” can mean feeling ostracized and excluded for wanting to be a mother and have a career in Law Enforcement.
Opting out of this much needed plan puts added stress on an expecting mother because she is forced to work 16 hours a day to accumulate enough time to be able to stay home with her newborn. No one should have to put their bodies and their unborn child through 16 hours of stress. The job itself is stressful enough. Yes, we took an oath to protect and serve. We do that willingly, sacrificing time with our family and friends. Oftentimes not able to leave work at scheduled times due to unforeseen events. That’s the commitment we made when we signed on. However in 2021 when the benefit is available for us to use, Westchester County chooses not to.
As stated by Officer Kenya Dalton, who is currently expecting her second baby in July “I contacted the benefits coordinator in Human Resources in White Plains to inquire about the benefit and was told Westchester County chooses to opt-out of the plan therefore it is not available to us”.
From our understanding, the position of the county implies our union must negotiate this benefit, but we are told by our union it’s the responsibility of the county. Are we to believe that every county union would have to negotiate for adequate maternity leave? What about the non-union workers? Are they left out? The county has the option oped in the state plan that will cover all women but instead, we see usual politics before protections of women’s rights. Women who wish to have families, especially single mothers are stuck in a rock in a hard place.
It is inconceivable that a woman can be Vice President of the United States, but in Westchester County we are still fighting for the rights for adequate maternity leave.
To this end, we are petitioning the Westchester County Government, the County Executive, the Deputy County Executive, and the Westchester County Board of Legislatures to opt into the NYS family medical leave law and offer every agency in the County Maternity Leave.
We are human. We deserve to have the benefit available to us as well. To all our supporters: mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins & friends of law enforcement officers, please sign the petition. If you live in Westchester County please call your local legislature and demand change. On behalf of all Law Enforcement Officers.
Westchester Correction Association
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